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5/1 - COVID-19 Highlights for the Business Community

The following is our latest on coronavirus response and news:

  • UPDATE FROM CITY OF ABILENE: The City of Abilene relaxed their Shelter in Place order at yesterday's City Council meeting. Restaurants, movie theaters, shopping malls, in-store retails sales, museums and libraries are all allowed to begin serving customers today if they operate at 25% capacity. You can find a summary of the order and a video of the meeting here.


  • RESTAURANTS BEGIN OPENING TODAY: Today many of our favorite restaurants will begin opening their doors at 25% capacity. We've worked to update our dining guide so you can show your support to our local eateries. Click here to view the list.


  • TEXAS RAILROAD COMMISSION RELEASES OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION STATISTICS FOR FEBRUARY 2020: Crude oil and natural gas production for February 2020 came from 170,960 oil wells and 86,698 gas wells. The RRC reports that from March 2019 to February 2020, total Texas reported production was 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil and 8.4 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC. Additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas County by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, can be found here.


  • GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES NEW TWC GUIDANCE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMANTS: To ensure Texans do not feel penalized for not returning to work due to health and safety concerns caused by the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Abbott announced new guidance issued by the Texas Workforce Commission that will allow Texans to continue to receive unemployment benefits throughout the COVID-19 response if they choose not to work. The new criteria specifies that a person may refuse to return to work if they or a household member are at high risk (65 or older), if they or a family member have COVID-19, are quarantined, or are lacking child care options. Any other situation will be subject to case by case review by the TWC.


  • UNEMPLOYMENT STILL HISTORICALLY HIGH, BUT CONTINUES DOWNWARD TREND: Yesterday brought more bad news about Unemployment Insurance claims. According to the Department of Labor, more than 3.8 million more Americans filed for unemployment for the week ending April 25. Click here to read more.


  • BACKGROUNDER ON UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE UNDER THE CARES ACT: Click here to view and download the U.S. Chamber's new Backgrounder on Unemployment Insurance Under the CARES Act which provides an overview on how the CARES Act has impacted unemployment insurance (UI) options available for workers who suffer job losses or reduced hours as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—including how to find out if you're eligible and how to access coverage. The backgrounder is also available for download in Spanish here.


  • THE FEDERAL RESERVE ANNOUNCES IMPORTANT CHANGES TO THE MAIN STREET LENDING PROGRAM: The Federal Reserve in a press release yesterday announced significant and positive changes to The Main Street Lending Program. The Fed lowered the minimum loan size to $500,000 from $1 million, and expanded the pool of eligible borrowers to businesses with 15,000 employees (up from 10,000) or up to $5 billion in revenue (up from $2.5 billion) among other changes made of which CCMC advocated for in their letter sent to the Fed on April 16th. These improvements will make the program accessible to more American businesses, and will help eligible lenders administer the program more effectively.


  • BACKGROUNDER ON HEALTH COVERAGE OPTIONS: Click here to view and download the U.S. Chamber's new Backgrounder on Health Coverage Options which provides an overview of the health coverage alternatives available to workers and their families who have lost coverage as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—whether because of job loss, hour reductions, or lay-offs. The backgrounder is also available for download in Spanish here.


  • CONSIDERATIONS FOR SPORTS EVENT ORGANIZERS WHEN PLANNING MASS GATHERINGS IN CONTEXT OF COVID-19: The World Health Organization developed guidance to support sports event organizers in assessing risks, identifying mitigation activities, and making informed decisions regarding hosting sporting events in the context of COVID-19. This document includes key considerations and risk factors and mitigation strategies for both event organizers, as well as a checklist of recommended actions for both event organizers and participants. It should be referenced in conjunction with the Risk Assessment tool.


  • TEXAS TRAVEL INDUSTRY AND COVID-19: All communities in Texas, big and small, are being severely impacted by the loss of travel spending due to the coronavirus. According to recent estimates from the U.S. Travel Association, annual travel industry losses for the U.S. could approach -45% and far exceed that of any other sector. The impact of the coronavirus on the travel industry is projected to be 9 times that of 9/11. The research also shows significant losses for Texas. The state has lost more than $1 billion in travel spending each week since March 21 – the fourth highest impact among all states following only California, Florida and New York. Click here to read more.


  • $14.4 BILLION IN ADDITIONAL CARES ACT RELIEF FUNDS FOR MINORITY SERVING AND LOW-INCOME SERVING INSTITUTIONS: Secretary of Education DeVos announced $14.4 billion in additional funding will be directed to Minority Serving Institutions (MSI’s), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs), as well as institutions serving low-income students. This funding comes as part of the Higher Education Emergency Fund, authorized by the CARES Act, aimed at ensuring learning continues during the COVID-19 crisis. DeVos encouraged institutions to use these funds to provide emergency grants to students, to expand remote learning programs, and build IT capacity.


  • TAYLOR AND SURROUNDING COUNTIES RECEIVE HOUSING FUNDS: The CARES Act, which sent stimulus checks to millions of Americans, also includes money for public housing assistance. Taylor and eight surrounding counties will share more than 450-thousand dollars in supplement funds. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is distributing the dollars which can be used for a wide range of purposes including resident support, maintenance, and safety and security. Abilene, Baird and Merkel will also get additional voucher program funding. Merkel will receive just over a thousand dollars for vouchers. Baird will get more than five-thousand, and Abilene will receive 189 thousand for vouchers. (Source KACU)


  • RECOVERY AND RE-OPEN TEXAS: We’ve updated our business resource website to include guidelines for reopening on Friday, May 1. Take a look here. Have a question you can’t find the answer to? Ask us!


  • HELP US GATHER A LOCAL RESOURCES: Do you have hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, etc. that would be beneficial to businesses working to re-open? We're gathering a list for the business community. Help us populate it! Click here for more.


  • UPDATE YOUR BUSINESS HOURS: We've been keeping track of business hours on businessresourceabilene.com. Help us share with the public of your changes by updating your hours of operation here.


Can you pencil us in? You don't want to miss these upcoming events.


  • 5/1 MANAGING STRESS IN UNCERTAIN TIMES: Stress management is what we often call it, but is that what we are really doing? Is “managing” even the right word? In this short webinar we will explore how “stress management” or any kind of “management” related to our health and wellbeing can work in this environment. Register here.

  • 5/5 COMMUNICATING AND BUILDING A BRAND THROUGH A CRISIS: Whether you are an individual, executive, company, small business or firm – knowing how to communicate and build brand through this crisis is essential to thriving after this is over. Mila Grigg, CEO, MODA Image and Brand Consulting, is joining us for a live webinar. Her experience around personal brand branding, company brand building, marketing, communicating, sharing on social media and building executive and company brands will give you a plan to communicate through and beyond this crisis and how to share value on social media. There are things you can do RIGHT now that will allow you to share your story, grow your message and thrive. Register here.


  • 5/7 MANAGING YOUR FINANCES AND BUDGET THROUGH A CRISIS: Join the Chamber and Eide Bailly, LLP for an in-depth look at managing your finances and budget through a crisis. Topics will include an overview of IRS relief programs (maximizing loan forgiveness and the next round of payroll protection, employee retention credit), managing cash flows, tax saving opportunities and what information your bank or lender will want and be looking for. Register here.

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